Mars Rover ‘Curiosity’ Landing: 10 Things to Know [VIDEO]

By @Len_IBTimes on

NASA scientists celebrated Monday the first landing of its six-wheeler Curiosity rover on the Martian surface.

Mars is the only planet most similar to Earth. The opportunity to explore its surface is an exciting endeavor for scientists who have long wondered whether microbial life could have survived on the planet sometime in its history.

Here are 10 Things to Know about the 'Miracle of Engineering'

1. "When you see a picture of the surface of the planet with the spacecraft on it, that is the miracle of engineering," lead scientist John Grotzinger described to reporters what the landing meant to the Curiosity team.

2. Curiosity has journeyed 352 million miles (566 million km) and landed flawlessly.

3. "We built this rover not just to be launched or not just to land on Mars, but to actually drive on Mars and execute a very complex and beautiful science mission," said mission manager Mike Watkins in describing what the scientists hoped to achieve with Curiosity.

4. The Mars rover "Curiosity" is so far the greatest achievement in the history of robotic spaceflight, with the biggest mission to dig up and look into Mars' past through its soil.

5. Curiosity landed about 6.2miles from the foot of Mount Sharp, a colossal formation of sedimentary rock 3miles away from the floor of Gale Crater.

6. The Martian landing is one giant step towards acquiring important knowledge about the geologic record of the history of Mars.

7. It will take months before Curiosity could explore Mount Sharp, but the scientists are confident their explorer could survive the slow approach. "We have a priceless asset and we're not going to screw it up," said Project manager Pete Theisinger.

8. Curiosity has an array of high-tech instruments for soil analysis, as well as examining rocks and atmosphere on the site, so the images could be beamed back to Earth.

9. The Mars rover is expected to use for the first time its dish-shaped antenna for a better "phone home" to Earth.

10. Curiosity was designed with a budget of US$2.5 billion. The scientists hope to get priceless discoveries as a result of the project.

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